Germany is well known today for its large population of Turkish citizens. But Berlin’s connection to Turkey and the Ottoman Empire has a long heritage.
Berlin is home to Germany’s great academic orientalism. Today still a city with a strong academic and museological identity, the great treasures of the Ottoman-German alliance are thoughtfully and thought-provokingly displayed.
Berlin’s Museuminsel (Museum Island) is a wonder. The magnificent Pergamonmuseum - soon to hold the fabulous Kier Collection of Edmund de Unger - was built from the gifts exchanged between Kaiser Wilhelm II and Adulhamid II (not least the Ishtar Gate, left). Meanwhile the Neues Museum, jaw-droppingly restored by David Chipperfield, and the Bodemuseum, hold other gems from Middle Eastern Empires. The German sensibility in Museum design gives added value to the already unparalleled collections of art from all over the world. Certainly no one can fail to be stunned by the splendour of the Pergamon Altar.
Upstairs in the Pergamonmuseum are room after room of astonishing Islamic treasures. The carpets in particular are a reminder of Berlin’s crucial role in the study of carpets as an art form. In 2015 the whole of the Museumsinsel will reopen, redeveloped and reconnected. The Islamic galleries will double in size.